Jeff tackles these questions by sharing his reflections as a CEO, hiring manager, coach, and Founder. Angie outlines the three steps to ‘Start With Me’ and how each creates the opportunity to unlock human potential.
For those who prefer to read, a full transcript of this episode is available after the Quick Links below.
[1:49] – Jeff Reflection “We all build our own prisons and then go hide in them. We’re all in these prisons of our own making.”
[7:18] – Three Steps to ‘Start With Me’
- Step 1 – Notice feeling emotional about an outcome created by somebody else that runs counter to my wants/expectations.
- Step 2- Recognize that the subsequent natural response is to tell a story explaining why that outcome happens. Acknowledge that story probably comes from a place of protection that doesn’t represent your reality or the most effective way forward.
- Step 3 -Reflect; what would it look like to come from a place of personal responsibility? You don’t have to be able to see yourself from the third person or be a capable diagnoser of systems; you just need to ask yourself – what are you feeling in this moment of confusion, and what fears might be driving your behaviors that are creating unwanted incentives?
[12:10] – When it comes to turning emotional signals into constructive action. Everybody needs help, regardless of who you are.“I want to make a couple of things clear; I talked to my coach this morning. So everybody needs help.” Even Jeff talks to his coach!!!
[15:20] – How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barret
[16:56] – To build effective problem-solving habits, you must orient to the process, not the end goal. In the absence of self-awareness, attention is robbed by confusion, which reduces productivity dramatically.
[29:05] – Personal Responsibility of a Leader“A group of people that exists in a hierarchy where one member of the group can exclude or fire or demote or castigate or otherwise harm a member of that group. If that person doesn’t start demonstrating self-awareness, self-skepticism, personal responsibility…Why would you ever expect that of anybody else? And if nobody else is doing it, then you’re tying your problem-solving hand behind your back.”
[31:21] – Creating Psychological Safety = Greater Productivity. Psychological safety is a means, not an end! It’s the only way to actively harness the power of your whole team. “the end that’s available when really pursuing creating an environment of psychological safety is much more well-informed, fast-moving problem-solving. Because people around a psychologically safe table are volunteering what’s actually happening, not protecting themselves by putting forward what they think will look or sound best.”
Full Transcript: Run Time 40:26
confusion, psychological safety, courage, goals, personal responsibility,
Jeff Hunter, Angie D’Sa
Angie D’Sa 00:12
Welcome to Quick Clarity, the podcast where we talk about all things three C. For those of you tuning in for the first time, three C is the Talentism model for understanding why confusion exists and how to turn that confusion into clarity and productivity. And what happens when we ignore confusion and let it harden into certainty. Each week, I talk to the founder of Talentism, Jeff Hunter, about the questions we see our clients dealing with and his latest thoughts on the state of humans, business, and the world.
Okay, folks, Jeff, welcome back to Quick Clarity. I’m excited for our format today It’s a bit of an experiment for us. We’ve actually crowd-sourced questions from listeners and clients. So for our audience today, you can expect to hear us talk about a few different topics. The first one is for listeners of our recent podcast on solving systems and not symptoms. We had some questions around how to practically start solving systems, how to take responsibility for the system that a leader or an individual has created around themselves. So we’ll take that topic first. I’d like to start by turning it over to Jeff and saying, Is there anything you want to remind our readers or listeners have from the conversation we had about solving systems as a way to truly unleash your potential?
Jeff Hunter 01:49
Yeah, and thank you, Angie; always a pleasure to be here. So let’s, let’s just start with that very high level, which I think that you talked about; I use this phrase of like, we’re, we all build our own prisons, and then go hide in them. We’re all in these prisons of our own making. That has very practical effects. The prison is sort of like a system. When we’re founders or executives, the system is weak, create it, and then it runs us. Then we’re completely baffled by what’s happening around us. We feel like everybody else is out to get us or, you know, these terrible confused feelings that we as leaders get. That is often not a result of anybody being incompetent, or nefarious, or in some way failing us. But it’s the system we built around us; the business we built around us is behaving exactly as we should have expected. We didn’t expect it because we built it slowly, and over time and in little bits and pieces, we weren’t really paying attention. Then when it starts doing the thing that hurts us, we can’t make sense of it. Like there’s got to be somebody to blame. There’s got to be somebody in here somewhere who did something to me. Of course, then our big problem is A. that reduces productivity because it takes you into this deeply confused state, and B. is you can’t learn because it’s somebody else’s fault. Yet, as leaders, we all build these systems. So actually, we’re going to talk about this great topic; I just like to actually demonstrate what we’re going to talk about and ‘Start With Me.’
This morning, I hurt a team member who I care about deeply. I did it unintentionally. I did it in the moment because I thought I was being a good manager, but I wasn’t. I was being a terrible manager. Literally just happened a couple of hours ago when I reflected after a very difficult interaction with this person, where, you know, there’s just a lot of tension and a lot of struggle and a lot of people feeling hurt and vulnerable. I sat down and reflected, and it was quite obvious that I had created the situation. I had done what I do, which is I have unreasonable expectations of myself, as a leader and as a provider and as somebody who is made promises to a lot of people about what we’re going to deliver and the change we’re going to make in the world and the kind of place we’re going to be. I set those expectations, I set those standards very high for myself, and then put myself in a situation where the system I build to achieve that, of course, is inherently fragile; we’re still a small company where we got a big number to meet this year, we’re growing very fast, we’re changing a lot to meet that number. People need to be in clarity in order to get the best out of themselves and to help each other. Yet I’m pushing and pushing and pushing, and all that pushing is not coming from me being in clarity as a leader, but me being in fear, me being in fear that I will fail if me being in fear that I will be insufficient to help these people and to meet my commitments. So I set up these convoluted systems and do all this stuff. I’m pushing people to task level. It’s not only ineffective, and it’s breaking, and it’s hurting people who I care about, but also it’s managing me; it’s like turning around. How have I been spending my time this morning? I’ve been spending my time, not even moving sales to the next level, which is my top priority right now as a founder and CEO. But instead was spending my time talking with people about their confusion and trying to help them get to clarity. So I quite literally built the system that now is managing me that is now prioritizing things for me. Of course, in the midst of it, I have feelings of self-pity, and I have feelings of you. Why don’t people understand? Why aren’t they working harder? But of course, when I took the time to reflect and really step back, it’s quite obvious what’s going on. The thing that we’ve been talking about is that I, in moments of confusion, or not paying attention, being in sort of perpetual, long-running blind spots, have built a system that is producing some incredible results in some ways, which is beautiful and wonderful to behold, but also very fragile and struggling in other ways. In those ways, that system is now going to be managing me. That’s my fault, and it’s an opportunity for me to learn. But it’s primarily that learning can only happen when I ‘Start With Me.’ I start with what I did to get us to this place so that I can learn from that and then start making the changes I need to so that we can get better. Ultimately, so I’m much less likely to end up hurting people I care about.
Angie D’Sa 07:18
I want to thank you for going to that personal place; I think it helps so much to hear an articulation or an example of something real in real time to understand the anatomy of this practice you’re talking about. At Talentism and we call it ‘Start With Me.’ I want to differentiate this from, you know, the concept like main character energy, or I am the center of attention or something like that. Because I think ‘Start With Me’ actually really requires somebody to be vulnerable rather than selfish. I want to just go slow through what I heard you say you did this morning because I think breaking down the steps will take it from something that looks very evolved that you do, Jeff, to something pretty simple that just about anyone can do. So what I heard you say is this morning, I was frustrated because somebody did something that felt like it let me down or some kind of emotion, right? So recognizing a feeling of emotion towards somebody else’s action. We know at Talentism, and If we’ve listened to the last podcast, we know that often what comes up in those moments, as part of our stress response as part of our totally normal physiological response to confusion, is a story about somebody else or our environment or ourselves. That helps explain away that feeling. Right? So very easily, that story could have become that person isn’t trying hard enough; they don’t care enough. We would call that a bad, stupid, lazy narrative.
Step number one, notice feeling emotional about an outcome created by somebody else that runs counter to what I would have wanted or expected.
Step number two recognize that the natural response to that; you don’t have to judge yourself for it, but you should recognize it. The natural response to that is to tell a story that explains why that outcome happens. That’s probably coming from a place of protection and not necessarily from personal responsibility or clarity.
Step number three, I heard you do, was, what would it actually look like to try and come from a place of personal responsibility? Well, as a very basic step, I don’t have to be a really capable diagnose or have systems; I don’t have to see myself perfectly from a third-party perspective; I just have to ask, What am I feeling in this situation? Right? What could I be scared of right now, that is, maybe driving behaviors that are creating incentives in the system around me that I don’t want? I think the simplest way to ask that question is like, what am I most afraid could go wrong in the big picture of my life right now?
I heard you say that, and it felt kind of connected to, will we build the business we need to? Will we hit the numbers that we need to? No doubt, leaders carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders for their organizations have some fear like that. Then I heard you say, okay, knowing that, predictably, when I am coming from that fear, I do things that might confuse people. How can I look at my behavior in this situation and say, What could I have done that could be confusing to others? Now, Jeff, you’ve been doing this work for years. So it’s not surprising to me that you would be able to look at your own behavior and come to some kind of useful observation about what subversive thing you might have been doing. For a lot of people, I think this is an important moment to get outside help; whether that’s your coach, whether that’s someone you trust, whether that’s a teammate to say, I probably can’t see myself clearly in this moment. What am I doing from a place of unacknowledged fear that’s actually causing confusion for others around me, undermining their ability to be at their best? Okay, so the steps of ‘Start With Me,’ I’m hearing as recognize when there’s an outcome in your system you didn’t want or feels unexpected to you that normal behavior is blamed the other person, and that critical to actually breaking through that system, changing that system is recognizing what behavior you’re doing, usually coming from a place if you’re a protection, that’s creating the outcomes you don’t want. So that’s the anatomy of what I heard you do; tell me what in there I’m missing or what other steps you would offer to others to carry that forward.
Jeff Hunter 12:10
I think that’s a great articulation of it. I want to make a couple of things clear; I talked to my coach this morning. So everybody needs help if you set unreasonably high standards for yourself, either because you’ve fallen into that trap unconsciously or because that’s who you aspire to be. Which is, in my case, like I’ve always been, the person who aspired to ever be better, ever be better, to hold myself to higher standards, etc. Regardless of who you are, like if you’re a founder, or you’re a CEO, or you’re an executive or whatever, and you have put yourself in the spot, and you have put yourself in that spot, just to be clear whether it feels that way or not. If you’ve put yourself in the spot where you have set standards and expectations for yourself that you feel you are failing to meet, then you need help. You’re not going to work through this productively. At the very least, you need help just to make sense of it. Hopefully, in this is the basis of clarity coaching; you need help to turn that into productive action and design. So, I talked to my coach this morning, even though Angie, as you said, I’ve been practicing the discipline of ‘Start With Me’ for the last decade, structurally, like designed to 10 years ago, structurally, and in 30 plus years before that, personally. It doesn’t matter how masterful any human being gets. We all end up stuck. We all end up in a place where The Void is great, the chasm is deep, and it’s dark, and we find ourselves at the bottom of it, and reaching out to someone else and asking for that help is crucial. So I just wanted to clarify that point. I didn’t have this thing happen this morning, and then just sort of sit there and go, Uh huh. It was…I felt terrible. I cried at one point; I’ve let people down; I’m gonna fail. All these things that so many founders feel. I felt them. I got help in order to work through them. Now, I wanted to say that and then just to reiterate, yes, it’s Trevor and I; Trevor is the head of IP at Talentism and a master coach himself; Trevor and I’ve had this ongoing conversation for, I don’t know, eight years…is the first question you start with, when you find yourself confused, How do I feel? Or what am I missing? I like, what am I missing? But I think we’re in general agreement that for most people, how do I feel is the right first question. Orient back in Word, don’t get caught in the narrative outward, as you described, it’s not everybody else that’s doing it to you. You’re feeling bad. See that experience, understand that be able to give voice to it. There’s an excellent, excellent book about, and I’m so sorry, I can’t remember the author’s name. But I think the title of the book is How Emotions Are Made. One of the things that she talks about, the author talks about is how, especially in Western societies with achievers like us, we just don’t have familiarity with internal experience, nor do we have the language to be able to navigate that well. So that practice, I think, is really important for leaders to say, like, I’m having an emotion; it feels bad. I’d like to get better at navigating that in order for me to become better and be a better leader and build better companies.
Angie D’Sa 16:05
I appreciate that. For listeners and for the show, show notes. That’s Lisa Feldman Barrett, How Emotions Are Made. Yes. The thing I think would be useful at this point is to take readers and listeners through what comes next; how do I make that practice of recognizing my emotion and my protection behavior, that may be creating a subversive system that I’m then trapped in? What do I do next to take a positive step to change what I’ve created? Because we so often say the reason to ‘Start With Me’ is yes, of course, it can feel cathartic, but it’s actually extremely practical and helps you regularly achieve your goals better, faster, cheaper. So talk to us about that, Jeff.
Jeff Hunter 16:56
It’s a great question. I’m gonna get to it. But let me say something; I was having a coaching session last week with a client. She’s fantastic. She’s just amazing. We were going through this thing of; she wanted to know about a particular thing with regards to goals, which we’re going to talk about later. I gave her the following answer. She was so displeased with me, you could see in her eyes, you know, we’re on Zoom, you could see in her eyes how upset she was with this answer. So I can only imagine all those listeners or readers out in the dark about to hear this answer and be like, well, that’s bullshit. But here we go. I think there are certain disciplines where you engage in the discipline because there’s a what’s next sort of orientation. So like, you practice your free throws because what’s next is you’re in a, you’re in a game, and you make more free throws. That’s why you’re practicing your free throws; you’re not out there just doing it for kicks. But there are certain disciplines that actually, we’ll talk about what’s next, like how to how to take up this orientation internal orientation to ‘Start With Me’ and use it productively. But I really want to highlight for readers and listeners; this is a lot like meditation; the practice must be an end in and of itself. Because if what you’re trying to do is figure out how to nail leadership like “I got my 10-step checklist from leadership and ‘Start With Me’ as number three on it.” you’re gonna suck at it. There has to be an orientation; this is a practice that’s worthwhile in order for you to be good at being in any number of different roles, any number of different responsibilities you have. Having said that, the act of ‘Start With Me’ primarily is an act of trying to get better at understanding and managing the most critical aspect of any business, which is your attention. So that’s what you’re doing, is in the absence of self-awareness, attention is robbed by your confusion. What happens is we all get confused; we’ve talked about that a lot, and we expect one thing we experience another. The reaction to that is not rational; it’s emotional; physiologically, we experience the unpleasantness of emotion. That is a that is an evolutionary imperative. Confusion should not feel good; it should inspire us to action. A lot of times, we’re instead frozen, and we make up narratives, other things that we’re talking about you’re describing. So what you want to do is see in that moment that attention has been stolen because your mind is going to spin down on this, I’m not talking about consciousness, I’m not talking about being awake, I’m talking about being able to orient your mind to the highest most important priority in front of you. So this morning, when I woke up, I had three things I had to get done this morning, for sure, I had to get these three things done; I had made commitments to other people; they are all mission critical for a fast-growing startup for the CEO, to be handling. As of now, when we’re recording this, it’s now 11:31 am. Eastern time. I have not done any of those three things. So what does this mean? What it means is that my attention got triggered this morning, I got a confusion response, and I circled down into it; my attention was robbed by this event. It’s an event not of anybody else’s making; it’s an event of my making. It’s an event that’s, again, created by the system I’ve created. In that moment, what’s next is to, as you say, see it and get help, or see it and go talk it out. So see it and get help, like this morning was a really bad one for me; I needed help. But there are lots of times where your attention gets robbed because you’re in the midst of confusion. It’s not as agitating. It’s not as negative, but it’s still unpleasant. Usually, it has to do with another person or another group of people; then, you can go talk it out. When I say talk it out, I think this is really important. What I’m saying is you will show up to the conversation with a bias towards personal responsibility. You will deploy ‘Start With Me’ as the practical method of demonstrating that personal responsibility. So you won’t show up just to be clear and say, “Hey, I’m sure this is my fault. But you guys are assholes”. That’s not what we’re talking about. By the way. I’ve seen a lot of people do that, using nicer language and longer sentences than I just did. But I see a lot of people do that. What I’m saying is, you’ll show up to the conversation. You’ll say, I’m confused. This is what’s happening to me; this is how I’m feeling; this is what I’m experiencing. Engage in the conversation through that. Practically, this is important because it’s more likely to create safety. Safety is necessary to have good conversations that lead to learning and evolution. So it’s really important to understand that you would show up with this perspective of I’m sure there’s something I’m missing. I’m sure there’s something I’m doing here. I’m sure there’s something; I definitely feel this way. The feeling is authentic. I want to have an exchange with somebody, a conversation to be able to figure out those things. What am I missing? What am I not seeing? And in that bias to personal responsibility, the learning that flows from that, you are also hopefully creating safety for other people to do the same. And to take responsibility for themselves in that moment as well. Like, actually, “Hey, Jeff, you’re not missing that particular case. You’re not. I committed to delivering something on Thursday, and here we are on Friday, and you still don’t have it. That’s right. That’s what happened.” How much more productive is that conversation than the standard conversation? I see it quite literally; I could take any work week, no matter how fabulous it is. Either through my coaching or my internal work, I have 20 or 30 of these conversations where you can see how if I showed up as a leader or as a coach, like, “Hey, listen, you didn’t do this, you didn’t do that.” It’s accusatory, I’m lashing out, I’m not showing any personal responsibility, you’re gonna see the person on the other side get defensive, they’re gonna feel under threat, of course, they’re not actually learning anything, you’re not learning anything, and nothing gets resolved. The best in that case that the leader can hope for is that someone else is going to roll over into submission and agree that they failed in some way they actually don’t really feel. By the way, I’m saying that’s the best you can hope for. That’s a terrible outcome. But at the very least, you could say, Well, okay, somebody said it was their fault and walk away. So the next productive thing you can do is to either get help when it’s really bad, go turn to your clarity coach, turn to somebody who you trust to help you make sense of it. So you can sort it out, or have the productive conversation, bringing in that ‘Start With Me’ bias to personal responsibility to initiate the exploration.
Angie D’Sa 25:19
Okay, that was very useful. If you don’t mind, I’d like to go slow, just one more time through the anatomy or the steps of what you just said. What I don’t want to skip past, as I think we’re suggesting to listeners, and what we help our clients to do is ‘Start With Me,’ not just in a dark room by yourself or with your coach, but actually with your team. In fact, most often, with the person or people who are at the center of the thing that’s causing you confusion and triggering that fearful response within you. So that also requires some amount of courage. I want to acknowledge that, especially for leaders who may come from environments that haven’t prioritized or rewarded that level of openness and vulnerability in service of creating a safe environment for learning and for greater mutual understanding. So the steps I heard you say, in that conversation where you go and you speak to the people directly involved in the confusion you’re experiencing, to simply start by saying, “I’m experiencing confusion. This is what’s happening for me.” And a natural outcome of taking that very simple step is one letting go of the typical narrative that shows up, which is usually the ‘it’s your fault narrative.’ Replacing it with the ability to be somewhat curious, if this is what’s happening for me, that must mean I’m missing something, I’m missing what’s happening for you, person on the other side of the table, or the zoom screen. There’s a curiosity that can show up there that really works in service of learning of mutual understanding. Then the other thing I heard is it sets a standard around personal responsibility for the group, especially if the leader is doing it. It creates safety and starts to impart the expectation that what we do here is we take responsibility. It makes it safe and potentially even rewarded for somebody else to say, oh, yeah, this is what’s happening for me. This is what I’m probably missing, or what could I be missing? When all those walls come down, the speed of the group’s ability to learn to get to the heart of the matter, for each person to change the thing that is for them, getting in the way of getting to the goal. That all goes a lot faster. That’s what I’m hearing you say?
Jeff Hunter 29:05
Yes. And by the way…I’ve always been fascinated by the people ops work that Google did to identify psychological safety as the core of great management to Google. More than, you know, clear goals or objectives or anything else. I’m just talking about what is the practical way that a leader demonstrates personal responsibility in order to develop that safety; you cannot…a group of people that exists in a hierarchy where one member of the group can exclude or fire or demote or castigate or otherwise harm a member of that group. If that person doesn’t start demonstrating self-awareness, self-skepticism, personal responsibility…Why would you ever expect that of anybody else? And if nobody else is doing it, then you’re tying your problem-solving hand behind your back. You’re trying to confront very difficult multi-threaded multivariate problems, to get to the root of why they exist and occur, diagnose them well, change the design so that you’re constantly improving, getting faster, you’re taking the most important tool in your toolkit off the table, and saying, Okay, well, we’re gonna figure this out. But we’re going to do it with everybody seeking to protect themselves from each other; it’s nuts. I don’t think what I’m speaking about is a sort of sociological or psychological imperative or anything like that. For me, the data supports…I have lots of experiences both in managing myself as well as leading other teams in lots of different places with coaching; Google’s data supports; other data supports that it’s managers who initiate psychological safety and do that through demonstrating the behavior, you know, the leader either eats last by going first kind of thing. I think that what they’re doing is they’re setting themselves up for success in a volatile, uncertain world where things are going to change really rapidly and, of course, mistakes are not only probable but to be expected.
Angie D’Sa 30:27
I’d like to highlight a point here because I think, out of context, the use of the term psychological safety can feel a little bit kumbaya with psychological safety as a means and not an end is what I’m hearing you say. That the end that’s available when really pursuing creating an environment of psychological safety is much more well-informed, fast-moving problem-solving. Because people around a psychologically safe table are volunteering what’s actually happening, not protecting themselves by putting forward what they think will look or sound best.
Jeff Hunter 31:21
Yeah, that’s right. So let me talk a little bit about psychological safety. But let me just respond to that point. So let’s just view the conversation; let’s view a conversation where people are trying to solve a problem as the first thing they’re trying to do is get all available data on the table. Human beings filter data; that’s called…that’s a bias, right? So like, human beings inherently have heuristic biases; you can’t not have them. So your brain is at an unconscious, inaccessible level, filtering data all the time to get the best possible data into the conversation. You need people who are going to be willing to bring up uncomfortable things. If they’re not willing to bring up uncomfortable things, then you get bad data. If you have bad data, you’re gonna have a bad diagnosis, and if you have a bad diagnosis, you’re going to get a bad fix. Psychological Safety, for me, is an inherently practical thing. I, for a period of time in my career, went around the country, and I had debates with leaders who really wanted to talk to me about hard skills versus soft skills, these hard-bitten business guys who really knew what was what and had been successful. They want to have these big conversations and debates in front of their C-suite about hard skills versus soft skills. They took the hard skills side, and I took the soft skills side. While I didn’t win all of those debates, I think most of them were productive in that people started to understand the pattern of failure in fast-growth companies is all on the quote-unquote, soft skill side; it is not on the hard skill side, that’s just terrible diagnosis on people’s part. I know you think, “Whoa, the company failed because we didn’t have the right strategy.” You could have hired 50 different consultants that would come in and give you the right strategy. The right quote-unquote strategy was always available to you. The reality is you didn’t know yourself well enough to know you had no intention of executing the strategy. Or even if you had the intention of executing the strategy, you were deeply uncomfortable with what that strategy said about you as a leader, and so you kept avoiding all the hard points about it. To me, this soft skill stuff where I live is as a person, Who’s a founder of…not only Talentism, but a co-founder of Dive-In, co-founding another company, and doing all this stuff, it is the most practical lens into how to build a winning company.
When we’re talking about psychological safety, psychological safety is not a moral imperative, which is sort of how it’s interpreted a lot by people. Psychological safety means different things, depending on what your goal is. For us, our goal is to systematically unleash human potential. That’s our purpose. That’s why Talentism is here. And that’s important to us because we believe that there’s just so much more potential sitting around any executive table than is actually being deployed for the benefit of the enterprise. There’s just a lot of waste. Then we, you know, diagnose that and figured out why that waste exists, etc. But if you care about unleashing human potential, what psychological safety means is the requisite condition to be uncomfortable to be productively uncomfortable. That’s what that means. There’s enough psychological safety at the table for a person to say it’s worth the risk of me speaking up. For other people, psychological safety could mean because they have a different goal, which is to either be free of conflict, or to be, you know, free of pain, or a lot of other goals, all of which are noble goals, but just not our goals. In that case, psychological safety literally means to protect a person from an unpleasant experience. And that is not what I’m speaking about. A team that is high functioning, that is producing great results, a team where later in your life, you look back with nostalgia and reverence to that team, and you say, “Oh, my gosh, we were all at our best” there’s going to be a lot of discomfort at that table, there’s going to be conflict at that table, that’s that is de facto going to be true. So what I mean by psychological safety is what is the leader or manager of that group doing to ensure that there is the maximum amount of productive discomfort to be able to help people learn and grow into their potential and therefore unleash their potential for the benefit of themselves and the enterprise.
Angie D’Sa 36:33
I think that’s such an important and helpful distinction, that psychological safety in the context that we’re talking about it, what it means for us as an important means to an end, is not always feeling comfortable and happy. It is feeling sufficiently safe to take risks and in fact, to try uncomfortable things in the service of a greater goal.
Jeff Hunter 37:03
Yes, so you brought up courage earlier, and we talk a lot about courage. If the design of your organization is, people need to be self-aware and have incredible levels of courage. So if everyone else needs to have self-awareness, speak up, and say, “I’m not good at this,” or “I need help,” things that are hard and difficult to say in groups of professionals where you feel like you’re being judged. If your standard is, hey, listen, everybody here has got to have incredible levels of courage. That’s the expectation. Well, you can have that expectation. But the reality is, you’ve just narrowed your recruiting pool down by like 98%. Because courage is situational and it’s difficult. I mean, I’ve talked at length about hiring, in former organizations, hiring people from the Special Forces, who, by any ostensible measure, were the most courageous human beings I’ve ever met in my life. Then we would say, Okay, you got to go into this room and talk to this person, and their knees would buckle. Because that is a much, much different thing than running to the sound of gunfire, running towards the sound of gunfire is existential. It’s mortal. It’s in any way you’d want to look at it. It’s a much higher-risk activity than walking into our boardroom and making a presentation. And yet, because of the way the mind works, that was so deeply unfamiliar and so deeply risky to them that it was everything they could do to muster their courage to get in there. So when leaders don’t start with themselves, but instead start with others and say, everyone here has got to demonstrate courage, I won’t, but you all do. Well, you can do that. And then most people aren’t going to work for you. And even if they did want to work for you, the number of people on Earth who can meet the standard of situationally absent courage basically falls down to sociopaths. Which, by the way, means that I’m sure there are a lot of great firms out there that have been built on that principle. But the reality is, for most of us, that doesn’t make any sense. That’s why ‘Start With Me’ makes so much sense. That’s why you have to; yes, it takes courage to show up. Don’t take a big swing at this; get help. Start small, start with smaller groups start with people you really trust. But the practice of all of this, of finding that courage in yourself so that you can create that safety for others, is really the point of ‘Start With Me.’
Angie D’Sa 39:50
Great. I think that’s a great place to end this first topic of how to ‘Start With Me’ as a way of seeing and taking responsibility for the system around you that you’re creating, which ultimately enables you to achieve your goals or holds you back from them. Thank you for that, Jeff.
Jeff Hunter 40:11
Of course. It’s always a pleasure.